Interlull: Unpopular opinions

It’s Interlull, it’s quiet, there’s nothing going on unless we want to discuss the fact that Mesut Ozil was seen in a Berlin nightclub on Saturday night, and to be perfectly honest I’d rather chew my own leg off than get into that.

So, with a doff of the cap to the Gunners sub-Reddit, where I saw this kind of thread appear, let’s try spark some discussion today with ‘Unpopular Opinions’. Things you think that you know might not go down well, but that you firmly believe. For example:

Mikel Arteta still has a role to play in this team

The captain has been easily forgotten due to his injury absences this season, and the latest lengthy one in particular. The emergence of Francis Coquelin has played a major part in that too. The Frenchman’s combative performances in midfield have added something to the team that is has been missing for quite a while and I’m delighted to see him take his chance the way he has.

At 33 Arteta is hardly one for the future, but I still think he’s got a part to play in this team. For a start, I could see him play alongside, or at least close to, Coquelin in certain games. His calmness on the ball and his experience are good assets for us to have. There’s also the need to ensure Coquelin doesn’t wear himself out and I’d still pick Arteta over Flamini if that were the case.

He’s an important man around the dressing room too, a good, professional leader and an example to the younger members of the squad, and the one year extension he’s already signed means he’ll be around next season.

I prefer Wojciech Szczesny to David Ospina

I know the Colombian has his fans and I understand completely why. Szczesny’s form was poor and his behaviour worse. He deserved to be dropped and Ospina has done nothing to warrant losing his place.

I still prefer Szczesny as a goalkeeper though. I think Ospina has benefitted from playing behind the most settled defence of the season with the addition of a defensive midfield specialist, whereas Szczesny, a bit like Mertesacker, suffered from being part of a back four that didn’t know its arse from its elbow in the early part of the season.

You can say Szczesny was part of the reason why and that’s fine, I get that. I still prefer his style of goalkeeping and I think his portrayal as some kind of Almunia-esque clown is way off the mark. I can understand why he rubs people up the wrong way, but he was the joint winner of the Golden Glove with Petr Cech last season, and it wasn’t by accident.

If we can be rightly critical of his failure to push on this season, I wonder how much the decision, a bad one in my opinion, to play Lukasz Fabianski in the FA Cup final last season has played a part.

The manager got it right with Lukas Podolski

There was uproar from certain quarters when we let Lukas Podolski go on loan to Inter Milan in January. “Why are we letting our best finisher go?”.

The team hasn’t missed him, and he’s done nothing in Serie A to suggest that the decision was anything other than 100% correct. He’s yet to score for Inter and come the summer he’s going to be sold.

The same goes for Joel Campbell

Although he signed a new deal before he left on loan to Villarreal, I don’t think he’s got a future with us. He failed to make the team most of the time, often he wasn’t even on the bench, but for some reason his absence vexed a lot of people as if this was a World Class talent we were wasting. I suspect a lot of that had to do with the fact the team were under-performing and he was seen as somebody we could try to do something different.

I thought he had one decent game in the World Cup and that was about it. People’s expectations for him were way out of line with his current talent/ability. Maybe the loan at Villarreal will allow him to take the big step forward required to be part of this Arsenal team, but 13 games and no goals isn’t the kind of form that pushes you into Arsene Wenger’s thinking.

We’re not missing Theo Walcott

We can speculate all we want about how much the contractual situation is playing a part in Walcott’s absence from first team action. We might suspect it’s playing a role, as we’ve been here before with him and the manager benched him then too, but none of us really know.

What we can say is that the team isn’t missing him. On current form, with 14 wins from 17 games in 2015, we’re coping without him quite fine. It’s also becoming apparent that he’s heading towards Goldilocks porridge territory when it comes to his deployment.

It can’t be too hot, or too cold, it has to be juuuuuust right before the manager will use him. Even with Ozil absent and Alexis knackered, he wasn’t picked for a game away from home at Newcastle last weekend. He didn’t get off the bench in the second half because he’s not the kind of player you can use in those circumstances, when you have to defend like mad.

From a position where he was our highest paid player, and so important that the club had no choice but to keep him on the wages he demanded, he’s become a marginalised figure and bar injuries and the porridge being just right for certain games, he’s not in our best XI.

So, there you go. Hopefully that won’t make us fall out or anything, but feel free to chip in with your own in today’s Arses. It might help some of the time pass during a tedious Interlull day.

I’ve got to take my car for the NCT today, it better pass or else rage. Ok, resigned disappointment and a promise to get the things fixed but inside I’ll be spewing.

Have fun, and keep the discussion mannerly! Till tomorrow.


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